In Bureaucracy, Business, Self-Help on July 1, 2010 at 12:19 am

1. Act professional. Stay calm. Don’t lose your temper. Don’t call names or assign motives when people fail to respond to your requests–quickly or at all. You don’t know for certain that the person you think is lazy or uncaring is in fact lazy or uncaring. S/he might simply not know the answer, or your problem might lie beyond his/her authority to resolve.

2. When someone refuses to help you, ask to speak with a supervisor.

3. If the agency/business clearly shows a lack of interest in resolving your problem, make your problem their problem. Make it seem (even if it isn’t true) that if your concern isn’t addressed properly, this failure will reflect badly on the agency or business.

4. When writing letters of request or complaint, always type your correspondence. Never send in anything handwritten–it’s the instant mark of an amateur, and probably a semi-literate one as well.

5. Never take NO for an answer. Keep pressing. You don’t have to convince everyone to grant your request or meet your need. You need convince only those few people who are in a decision-making position to grant it.

6. When writing a letter or making a call to an agency or business, always start at the very top–the CEO or president. If you can convince him to grant your request, those under him will quickly move to obey.

7. Tell the decision-maker what you want the agency/business to do for you. Oftentimes, people are so upset or frustrated that they keep complaining even after they’ve found someone who is willing to help. Be reasonable; if the company accidentally damaged something that cost you $200, don’t demand that they pay you $2,000.

8. Be prepared for delays and setbacks when dealing with bureaucracies. There is no telling how long it will take to get a business or agency to send you a report or even return your phone call. Be prepared to write multiple letters or make repeated calls to the same agency or to even a half-dozen agencies covering the same problem.

9. When appropriate, use jargon to appear knowledgeable and worthy of trust and cooperation. If you’re trying to get help from the FBI, for example, it might be helpful to throw out a few phrases like, “Who is the SAC [Special Agent in Charge] of that field office?”

10. Act like you know what you’re doing–and even like you know more about the subject than you do. Act as though you have an absolute right to have your request granted–and that if it isn’t at the level you’re now dealing with, you have ways to obtain the desired result at another–and higher–level.

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